As a business owner, your professional reputation is one of your biggest assets. It can help you win new business, bring in the best talent and keep everyone on your side. The difficult part is building it and retaining it.
Businesses have a lot to gain from enhancing their professional standing. Being recognised for the right reasons means people have confidence in you and the service you deliver. When your company is liked and seen as reliable, you can look forward to repeat business, more customers and more opportunities.
For business and franchise owners, professional reputation is inextricably linked to their name. People do business with people, not businesses. That means, your customers will often choose you not just because they like your products or your service, but because they appreciate your vision, the way you do things and the impact you have on the community.
People don't buy what you do; they buy why you do it and what you do simply proves what you believe. People will do things that prove what they believe.
– Simon Sinek, author and motivational speaker
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What makes a good professional reputation?
A good professional reputation is based on the way you do business and interact with the world around you. You may be well regarded because you’re a good employer, or because you’re fantastic at customer service. These aspects will be important for well-known brands, which often come under the media spotlight for the wrong reasons, such as seeming to have a gender pay gap or refusing to give refunds. And given that 84% of job seekers say the reputation of a company is important to their decision, it’s clear that how you’re perceived is crucial to winning the war for talent.
Your reputation may also be built on how you help the local community, through everything from providing jobs to giving financial support to initiatives.
For lots of franchise owners, doing business in the ‘right’ or ethical way is second nature. The trickier part is often putting yourself out there as a brilliant business owner to build your reputation. If you’re not sure how to take this next step, here are some ideas to get you thinking.
Using social media to build your professional reputation
Social media can be a great tool for making yourself and your business known. People are believed to spend an average of three hours a day on social media and networks – that makes users a captive audience looking for great content.
If you’re a B2C brand, opt for platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, where people are happy to learn more about lifestyle products. If you’re B2B, focus on LinkedIn to grow your professional network and standing. You can have LinkedIn profiles for your personal use and for your business, which can help you create larger reach and enable you to share different types of content. For example, you could share content on being a good employer and industry news from your personal page, and save your business page for product announcements and content that your customers will be interested in.
To build a good professional reputation, it helps to keep in the back of your mind that all the content you share on social media should be helpful and insightful. Minimise how often you share your successes and instead focus on interesting ideas and thought leadership pieces, like business tips.
When it comes to social media, building a good reputation isn’t just about the content you put out there. You also need to share content from other businesses to help build your network. You could even collaborate with other businesses to be a bigger part of the online community.
Get PR savvy
If you have business success stories to share, going through your local or industry (or even national) press could be the best way to get the word out there. You could send press releases to help launch new products or services, or to announce collaborations.
To increase your chances of getting your news picked up by a journalist, make sure your stories and interesting. It also helps if they’re relevant, e.g. they’re related to big news stories, they coincide with national days, they’re relevant for the season etc. You should also work to build relationships with the journalists to make sure you become a trusted source of information.
Be part of the local scene
If you’re a regional business, being part of the community is vital for building your professional reputation locally. Not only will you become a known figure or business, but you can also demonstrate the way you’re helping the community.
There are a few ways to build your local reputation. You can attend and host events, such as business talks happening in your area. These events are a chance for you to meet other business owners and discuss your take on current issues and business trends. You could also sponsor teams and clubs, which can work well to grow your brand recognition if you’re a B2B business.
Attending events that other companies in your local are hosting is an effective way of demonstrating your place within the business community. As well as showing your support, you’ll also be starting those important networking conversations.
Become a mentor
After years of building a successful business, you’ll no doubt have plenty of wisdom to pass on to others. Sharing your insights and words of advice can be a good way to build your professional reputation, showing you are helping others and have lots of insightful tips to share.
You could become a mentor through a scheme or offer to give talks at a local college or university. Offering apprenticeships is another way to mentor others, and this route will also help establish your business as a good employer.
Practise what you preach
There is no point in putting your time and effort into raising your professional reputation if customers, clients, suppliers and employees have negative experiences with your company. Stories about poor service and bad employee policies will quickly undo your positive reputation building.
Make sure you’re responding fast to any complaints and putting remedial action in place. Concentrate on ensuring most people you work with are happy with your business, your service and your products before you start to build your professional reputation.
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It takes time to become well known for the great way you do business, but the rewards of your labour will be worth it. You’ll build new professional relationships and work towards becoming a halo brand – one that has a strong loyal following.
For more inspiration on growing your reputation, you could read our article on how to become a bigger part of your community. Or take a look at our tips for coaching your employees to success for more insights on becoming an excellent employer. We have lots of other articles and guides designed for new and established business owners here on Point Franchise. Explore everything from creating your business plan to getting the insurance you need.
Sophie Cole, Point Franchise ©